Polar exposure: the Women’s Euro-Arabian North Pole Expedition with Felicity Aston

Facing sub-zero temperatures, a treacherous shifting landscape and the threat from predatory polar bears, polar scientist-turned explorer, Felicity Aston MBE, successfully led a team of novices from Europe and the Middle East in across the Arctic Ocean to the North Pole. Felicity talks about the challenges this involved in her upcoming talk at Exeter Phoenix on Wednesday 22nd April.

Overcoming some of the toughest physical trials on the planet, this is the inspirational story of how an international group of women succeeded in fostering a greater understanding between Western and Arabian cultures, challenging stereotypes, and bonding together as they skied through unpredictable blizzards, with temperatures as low as -38°C, to the last degree of the North Pole in April 2018.

From conceiving the idea ten years ago to the project’s positive outcomes, Felicity will captivate listeners from start to finish, revealing how she found and recruited team members, how they trained individually and together as a group, and how nothing could prepare them for the vast forces of nature on arrival; moving and camping not on solid ground but on a constantly shifting patchwork of pack ice with cracks revealing the ocean beneath.

Sharing how it was only the ability of team members to adapt to the unexpected and find the resilience to keep going even when facing unforeseen obstacles, Felicity will talk about the group’s collective experience of human endeavour, what they learned about the changing nature of the fragile polar environment and what ultimately enabled them to succeed in inspiring other women to reach beyond the expectation of others and fulfil lifetime ambitions of their own.

Felicity says: “My aim is to share what it feels like to be on Arctic Ocean sea ice so that the audience comes away feeling a greater connection to an environment they might not ever get the chance to experience for themselves. In addition, the story of the ten team members from across Europe and the Middle East from all sorts of backgrounds and world views will remind everyone of the importance of reaching beyond the expectation of others and asking new questions. I hope to leave everyone in the audience freshly inspired!”

Felicity became the first woman to ski alone across Antarctica in 2012. The journey of 1,744km took 59 days to complete and landed her a place in the book of Guinness World Records. Her other expeditions have included the first British Women’s crossing of Greenland, a 6,000km drive to the South Pole and a 36,000km three-person drive to the ‘Pole of Cold’ chasing the onset of winter across Northern Europe and Siberia as part of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)’s Land Rover Bursary.

Her talk, on Wednesday 22nd April, is part of the regular Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) series of talks at Exeter Phoenix and tickets cost £12 or £10 to RGS-IBG members. To find out more visit www.exeterphoenix.org.uk or call the Box Office on 01392 667080.

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